Five Places Where Police Shooting Scandals Have Altered the Political Landscape

In other words, black votes matter.

Jamelle Bouie/Wikipedia

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With national attention focused on the mistreatment of people of color by the police, and with incumbents in many cities reeling from police-abuse scandals, some Black Lives Matter organizers have launched bids for elected office. Here are five places where officer-involved shootings have altered the political landscape.

Cook County, Illinois: State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has been under fire since November for her handling of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer. Her top challenger is Kim Foxx (profiled here), who was raised in a notorious housing project but made it to law school and became an assistant state’s attorney. Foxx, who has been pounding Alvarez over the McDonald case, promises to overhaul prosecutorial practices in Cook County and supports assigning officer-involved shootings to a special prosecutor. She’s still polling a close second, but she has racked up key endorsements, including those of the Cook County Democratic Party—and Alvarez’s former campaign co-chair.

Baltimore: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, stung by criticism over her handling of last April’s Freddie Gray-related unrest, is not seeking reelection. Stepping into the void is Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson, a lead organizer of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore—his hometown—and a national voice for the movement. McKesson, 30, left his job as a public school administrator to become a full-time organizer and has built his mayoral platform around police and education reform and tackling unemployment.

Ferguson, Missouri: In the first local election since a white police officer killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, voters have elevated two black candidates to the Ferguson City Council, tripling black representation on the six-member panel. (Voter turnout was 20 percent higher than it was in the previous municipal election.) State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who helped organize local protests after Brown’s death, aims to ride the activist wave all the way to the halls of Congress. She says she wants to see more federal resources directed to educational programs at the state level.

St. Paul, Minnesota: Black Lives Matter leader Rashad Turner, 30, is running for the Minnesota House with a platform focusing on criminal justice and education reform, employment, and housing. Turner, who first trained to be a cop but then switched to education, led the Black Lives Matter protest at the Minnesota State Fair last August. To win, he’ll need to unseat incumbent Democrat Rena Moran, the state’s first black female state representative, currently in her third term.

Cuyahoga County, Ohio: Tim McGinty, the prosecutor who argued to members of a grand jury that they shouldn’t indict the Cleveland police officer who gunned down 12-year-old Tamir Rice in a local park, now faces a very tough reelection bid. Exhibit A: He failed to secure the county’s Democratic Party endorsement.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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